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By Character Diva

Ahhhh, autograph books. They are a way to remember your Disney trip long after you have gone. Your child gets to feel closer to their favorite movie characters, and who doesn’t like taking their autograph book to school to prove to their friends that they got to meet Goofy?

But while they can be fun souvenirs, they also come with a price tag. Currently, Disney sells theirs for $7.95, or if you want an autograph book that allows you to add pictures with the characters, you can purchase one from $11.95 on up.
But if you want to try another alternative, here are five of the many fun and creative ways you can create your own DIY autograph book, and the pros and cons (in my opinion) of each.
1)   Use a notebook.
Pros: They’re cheap. Especially if you buy them around August when all the Back to School Supplies are on sale. A notebook and a ballpoint pen (or marker if you prefer, but be careful that it doesn’t bleed through) are great to take along if all you want is the signature. And with scrap booking places ranging from the aisles in Walmart and Target to bigger craft stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, it is easy to find most characters. For a few examples of sample pages, check out Budget Diva’s article HERE or Canadian Diva’s HERE.
Disney Diva Tip: The Dollar Tree has a lot of great stickers of characters, and if you have trouble finding stickers or other images, you can always google images or look up Disney clipart, and print, cut and glue pictures of characters into your autograph book.
Cons: With a few exceptions, most notebooks have lined pages. Not a horrible flaw, but it can make the signature harder to read.
2) Use a book.
 Pros: Disney has a large selection of books with multiple characters (Princesses, Pixar Characters, and other storybook collections).
Disney Diva Tip: I have seen the big storybook collections on sale on Black Friday at Walmart the last two years in a row for around $3… definitely better than the $15.99 the books would normally cost, and still cheaper than the cheapest Disney autograph book at a theme park. You can also use the Step into Reading Disney books or other paperbacks, and sometimes find stories that have multiple characters from different movies, which of course means, multiple autographs.
The great things about books are not only do you encourage reading and literacy with your child, but it is something you can use long after you get home. You can read stories of your favorite characters and have their signature next to the story (or wherever you ask them to sign it). And as you’re taking time for storytime, you can reminisce about your vacation and talk about it while reading, and who doesn’t want to share quality time listening to their child- especially when it can be about such fun and happy memories as a Disney vacation?
Cons: I have yet to find a book that has all of the Disney characters you will most likely run into. And what do you do if there are some stories where you don’t see those specific characters during your vacation? Yes, you can use blank pages or the front or back inside cover, but they might seem out of place. This might not be an issue for you though, so if it’s not, by all means buy a book.
 3)  Use a backpack.
Pros: You will probably have one with you while walking around the theme park anyway. Whether you are carrying your camera, jacket, snacks, water bottles, wallet, keys, or Mickey Mouse gloves, you will most likely have everything in a backpack, so since you have one, you might as well get it signed. Also, it is something your child can take when they go back to school, and while most kids have backpacks with Disney characters on them, how many can claim that they have one that has been signed by Rapunzel or Cinderella? Plus it also makes it that much easier for your child’s teacher (and you) to identify which backpack belongs to your child.
Cons: If your backpack IS loaded with stuff, it can be hard to stand still or be in a position for characters to sign it.
Disney Diva Tip: If you hold and support the backpack for the character, they may have an easier time signing it. Also, Make  sure you bring a sharpie or something for the characters to sign it with… preferably something that won’t wash out either after running through the washing machine. 
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4)     Use a pillowcase.
Pros: Again, it is something you can use at home (or use on the pillow from your hotel room) when your child wants to dream of Disney dreams and think about all of the fun things from your trip. You can also buy colorful fabric markers or sharpies and have the different characters sign it. And best of all, pillowcases are relatively cheap, and they generally come in sets of two, so if you have an even number of kids (or if you want to bring back a cheap souvenir for someone) these can be a fun option.

Cons: Unless you’re at a character meal or near a flat surface, these can be a pain to sign.
Disney Diva Tip: Make sure you bring something flat to use as a writing surface. (Or let them use your back as a surface to write on- remember signing yearbooks in school?)  
5)  Use an iPad or other tablet.
Pros: We’re moving into a more mobile age- the number of people who own iPad or other tablets is growing, and even some smart phones have apps with the same capabilities. The nice thing with digital autographs is 1.) Besides purchasing an app, it’s free and 2.) You can always use them for scrap booking or other purposes, like shrinking them down and printing them onto birthday cards or party invitations. You can also keep them for as long as you want with a smaller chance of losing them or them winding up in the garbage, and hey, you can save a tree too.
Disney Diva Tip: For more information on a specific app, Disney Diva did a great article where you can get more information HERE
Cons: The writing surface can seem small and characters with elaborate costumes may have a hard time writing on your device. It also might make for sloppier handwriting because of trying to write with either their finger or the stylus (some of the characters like the Beast have a hard enough time with the normal autograph books). And while you would hope this wouldn’t happen, make sure to keep your smart phone or tablet in a place where it can’t get stolen. You can rent a locker, leave it with another person in your group, or just pray that it doesn’t get taken out of your backpack, but remember, sometimes people have sticky fingers… even in the Happiest Place on Earth.
Update: ANOTHER option!
6.) Autograph Quilt 
Back in September 2015, I forced convinced my mom to help me come up with another autograph idea I had found online. An autograph quilt! She cut and measured fabric squares for me, and paired with a couple of fabric markers, we were able to collect autographs that way. Then when we got home, she was able to arrange them into a design and sew them together (along with a couple of castles and Mickey Mouse heads to use as the border). It turned out great!
Pros: Carrying around fabric squares are really easy and lightweight. And you can arrange them into whatever unique pattern or design you want. This is an extremely unique way to display your autographs for years to come. I chose to use mine as a wall hanging, but this would also be perfect to curl up with a  good book, watch your favorite Disney movie, 0r even just flip through your vacation photos while you plan your next trip to Disney!
Cons: This is definitely an expensive project. If you have someone who enjoys making quilts, they may be willing to donate the materials and time, or if you can do it yourself, even better, but this is de+finitely the most expensive of the alternatives (Though also something that you may get more use out of).

These are six fun ways you can collect Disney autographs without buying an autograph book from the theme park. What other ideas do you have?